In a resounding victory for the First Amendment, a federal judge rebuked President Biden's "Orwellian" censorship of political dissent on Big Tech platforms.
The ruling from federal judge Terry A. Doughty, a Trump appointee, landed on the Fourth of July - adding a symbolic power to his rebuke.
The judge blocked Biden officials from making contact with social media companies while the case is pending,
Under the pretext of controlling "disinformation," the White House colluded closely with nominally "private" actors such as Twitter and Facebook to control speech. This indirect approach allowed the White House to bypass the First Amendment's prohibition on government censorship - until now.
The plaintiffs in the case, Missouri and Louisiana, called the administration's efforts "the most egregious violations of the First Amendment" in the nation's history.
Judge Doughty did not mince words, either, likening the censorship to the totalitarian government in George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984.
Biden officials facilitated censorship on controversial subjects like COVID restrictions, vaccines, the 2020 election, and Hunter Biden's laptop, the judge said.
"Evidence produced thus far depicts an almost dystopian scenario," Doughty said. "During the Covid-19 pandemic, a period perhaps best characterized by widespread doubt and uncertainty, the United States Government seems to have assumed a role similar to an Orwellian 'Ministry of Truth.'"
The judge cited extensive evidence of meetings and e-mail exchanges reflecting a chummy relationship. The censorship "almost exclusively targeted conservative speech," the judge said.
For example, in April 2021, as Biden was ramping up his vaccination campaign, a Biden official complained to Google that YouTube was driving people to question the COVID vaccine.
"This is a concern that is shared at the highest (and I mean highest) levels of the WH," he wrote.
This collaboration wasn't exactly kept secret. Biden said publicly in July 2021 that social media companies were "killing people" by allowing so-called vaccine misinformation to spread.
At the time, then-press secretary Jen Psaki notoriously admitted that the administration was "flagging" posts it considered dangerous.
The Biden administration continues to deny all wrongdoing, insisting that, while Big Tech companies have a "critical responsibility" to keep the American people safe, they have made "independent choices about the information they present.”
Louisiana's Republican attorney general Jeff Landry applauded Doughty for protecting "the core political speech of ordinary Americans."
“The evidence in our case is shocking and offensive with senior federal officials deciding that they could dictate what Americans can and cannot say on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms about COVID-19, elections, criticism of the government, and more,” Landry said.